What's your role at Bridgeman Images?
Most of my time is spent recouping money for Artists, Museums and Private Collections from Secondary licenses raised by various RROs (Reproduction Rights Organisations). Think Robin Hood but without the cute outfit and more spreadsheets!
I also help out with the transparency and digital archive. I love seeing new collections arrive, both for the new content as well as seeing how things have been ordered.
What do you love most about your job?
I've always been collecting, ordering and documenting various things from cone shells to tropical plants and seeds. So I actually started archiving before I really knew what an archive was. Every day I see a new image that takes me by surprise, maybe by its beauty, or that it makes me laugh. Other images challenge me in some way or spark an idea. I’ve got an insatiable appetite when it comes to images.
What misconceptions do people most commonly have about the archive?
We represent many of the biggest museums and galleries in the world, so it’s easy to only associate us with the more famous works. However we also have an ever-growing number of really interesting private collections. The content is often not available anywhere else, so clients have the opportunity to choose something truly unique. The constant flow of photography coming into the archive is hugely exciting too.
Duggan's top picks from our archive
Animation of Elephant Walking
In 1860 Eadweard Muybridge suffered severe head injuries in a violent runaway stagecoach crash. This irreparably damaged his Orbitofrontal Cortex and caused a dramatic shift in his emotional behaviour. In 1874, Muybridge shot his wife’s lover at point-blank range. But he was acquitted on grounds of insanity caused by the brain damage. He also credited the accident with freeing his creativity from conventional social inhibitions and went on to create amazing work.
This Elephant Walking animation based on plate 733 of Eadweard Muybridge’s Animal Locomotion series is a firm favourite. Using multiple cameras to capture motion in stop-motion photographs, Muybridge went on to shoot over 100,000 images of animals and humans in motion.
Diver jumping from a tower
Having grown up in Vanuatu in the South West Pacific, this photo of land diving on Pentecost had to feature. The precursor to bungee jumping, men jump off towers up to 30 metres high with two vines wrapped around their ankles to break their fall. The aim is to brush the ground with your shoulders.
According to the Guinness World Records, the g-force experienced at the lowest point in the dive is the greatest experienced in the non-industrialized world by humans. Land Diving, or Nanggol was banned in the 19th Century by Christian missionaries. But it was revived in 1980 after Vanuatu gained independence.
An early X-ray photo of frogs
My mum lectured in Biology when I was growing up. I remember being fascinated by the specimens in jars and skeletons on display in her lab. So it’s probably no wonder that this x-ray photograph of frogs is another favourite.
The photographer is Josef Maria Eder (1855 – 1944), an Austrian chemist who specialized in the chemistry of photography. It really showcases how perfect and delicate nature’s design can be. Given that it was photographed in 1896, it must have been mind-blowing when it was first published.
Using home-made cameras, Karl Blossfeldt took shots of plant surfaces in unprecedented magnified detail. He believed that 'the plant must be valued as a totally artistic and architectural structure.'
I love how his images draw you in. The repetitive patterns, textures and forms show just how wonderful nature is. I’ve chosen this image of Nigella Damascena (love-in-a-mist) specifically, as it’s one of my favourite plants
Portrait of Nikola Tesla holding a light bulb
Nicola Tesla is my not-so-secret 19th Century mad scientist crush. He designed the modern Alternating (AC) Current, and also worked on developing a Death Ray. This Teleforce weapon's aim was to send concentrated beams of particles of tremendous energy. He claimed they would be able to bring down a fleet of planes from 200 miles away and cause armies to drop dead in their tracks.
When he wasn’t working on his Death Ray, Tesla was a huge nature lover. He fed the pigeons every day and even brought injured ones into his hotel room to nurse back to health. Tesla spent over $2,000 on one female pigeon. He even built a device that comfortably supported her so her broken wing and leg bones could heal.
Find out more
Need help with a project? Contact our team of in-house experts to source the cultural and historical footage and stills that you need. Our archive is growing all the time so there's always something new to discover. We also offer research and retouching services.